Those irritating gits who run companies that mither everyone with nuisance calls and texts are looking at some new regulations that will slap them with huge fines. We’re talking penalties of (up to, of course) £500,000.
The current laws don’t do much to discourage these spam merchants, but that’s apparently going to change, as new rules will make it much easier to penalise them.
They come into play from April 6th and they mean that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) won’t have to prove that unwanted messages are causing a “substantial damage or substantial distress” any more.
In addition to that, the Government are also looking at bringing in new rules which will see that executives on the board of these businesses will also be held responsible for these calls and messages.
“For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm,” said digital economy minister Ed Vaizey. “This change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on.”
We all know how slippery these cold-callers are, so it would be wise to avoid holding your breath until we actually see someone getting a massive fine. Still, this is, initially, very good news for everyone.
According to Sky News, the company called PaymyPCN.net, which has collected penalty charges for two decades has a direct link to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database, which means people who shouldn’t be looking, can see drivers’ names and addresses.
Not only that, there’s public access to the content of emails that are appealing charges and photos of drivers and the cars. In addition to all that, this database allows the aforementioned photos to be uploaded and deleted, which is just magic.
How did this all come about? Well, a link to all that lovely data was published on Twitter by Michael Green after a private parking firm sent it to someone in error.
Green said: “I am not surprised by this. The DVLA claims to have safeguards in place to ensure drivers’ details are safe but these only exist as media soundbites. Our campaign challengethefine.com aims to get people compensated for parking data breaches. Despite the RAC Foundation questioning the legality of these charges the DVLA still passes millions of details on to private firms.”
Of course, this is the DVLA that have come under heavy fire for their collective failure to vet and audit the companies in which they are prepared to sell the names and addresses of motorists, so this latest news isn’t a shock at all. This is also the same DVLA who have been acting unlawfully when it comes to losing your letters that you’ve sent them (and here’s what you can do if the DVLA say they’ve lost your letter).
A DVLA spokeswoman said: “This is not a DVLA error. We take our duty to safeguard data very seriously and we will not compromise data security. DVLA does not hold or provide data such as photographs, emails and phone numbers to private parking companies.”
As for PayMyPCN – if you want to get in touch with them to see about data breaches, here’s the number to call and their email: Tel: 03450 737 209, firstname.lastname@example.org.
American and British intelligence agencies have been up to no good. They’ve been hacking, illegally, into SIM cards to steal codes so they can try to listen in on people’s calls, according to reports.
This, like all scary spy and surveillance news, has trickled out from the infamous former American intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden.
Spies hacked the SIMs of a company called Gemalto who, as you can imagine, are pretty furious about all this as they operate in 85 different countries and they’d rather not be thought of as complicit in all of this.
The Intercept are calling this “the great Sim heist” and that surveillance agencies were given “the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data”. Some of the mobile networks that are clients of Gemalto include T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and “some 450 wireless network providers around the world”.
The source also claims that this hack was organised by Britain’s GCHQ and America’s NSA and that, the hack resulted in the ability to unscramble calls, texts and emails from the decode data that is flung through the air between phones and cell towers. It has also been claimed that Gemalto employees were cyber-stalked and their emails were tapped into so agencies could steal encryption keys.
A Gemalto spokeswoman said: “We take this publication very seriously and will devote all resources necessary to fully investigate and understand the scope of such highly sophisticated techniques to try to obtain Sim card data.”
Lenovo have been accused of something pretty grim, and if true, they’ll have some tough questions to answer. Users on the Lenovo forum have been talking about a bit of adware which goes by the name of ‘Superfish’. It seems that this adware has been hijacking browsers to place third-party adverts on Google searches and websites without the permission of the users.
That’s pretty bad, but the accusations get worse.
This apparently happens by utilising self-signed certificates to trick browsers into showing them on your computer and one person has claimed that the program intercepted a connection to their bank, which means that Superfish could well be collecting data without authorisation.
A number of posts prompted Lenovo employee Mark Hopkins to try and set the record straight. He said that Lenovo has removed Superfish from laptops and that the company have requested that the developer publishes a patch to plug the security gap. He said: ”Due to some issues (browser pop up behaviour for example), with the Superfish Visual Discovery browser add-on, we have temporarily removed Superfish from our consumer systems until such time as Superfish is able to provide a software build that addresses these issues.
“As for units already in market, we have requested that Superfish auto-update a fix that addresses these issues.”
Lenovo have stopped preloading Superfish into new consumer laptops as of January 2015, and they’re investigating what is happening with the systems that are already out there.
HOW TO REMOVE SUPERFISH FROM YOUR COMPUTER
First, hit Start/Windows and open Control Panel. Hit ‘Select Uninstall a program’ or ‘Add or Remove Programs’ and then select ‘WindowsShopper’ and press ‘Remove’ or right-click to select ‘Uninstall’.
There are associated programs that come with Superfish, such as Yontoo – remove that in the same manner as above.
If you’re using Windows 8, select ‘Control Panel’ from the Charm bar settings and click ‘Uninstall a program’ and remove the unwanted application from there.
To remove it from your browser, do as follows.
Google Chrome: Hit the 3-bar icon, top right of the window. Select ‘Tools’ then ‘Extensions’ before selecting the ‘Superfish WindowShopper’ extension and click the bin icon to get rid of it.
If you’re on Internet Explorer, in the browser, go to ‘Tools’, ‘Manage Add-ons’, ‘Enable or Disable Add-ons’ and disable the unwanted app. With Firefox, again, go to ‘Tools’, then ‘Add-ons’ and the ‘Extensions’ and select ‘Windows Shopper’ and remove it.
Any other troubles, employ a Spyware removal tool to get rid of it.
If you have a Facebook account, chances are, you’ve got a load of important photos on there. Your graduation day might be on there. That night out you had with pals you haven’t seen for a decade. That time your mate shot themselves through the foot when you went clay pigeon shooting. Cherish memories.
Well, you might want to back those photos up because a security researcher has just discovered that he can delete all your Facebook memories with four lines of code.
Someone called Laxman Muthiyah was mucking around with Facebook’s Graph API. On their blog, after musing about whether or not they could delete other people’s photos, they wrote: “I decided to try it with Facebook for mobile access token because we can see delete option for all photo albums in Facebook mobile application isn’t it? Yeah and also it uses the same Graph API. so took a album id & Facebook for android access token of mine and tried it.”
Of course, a good chunk of that is impenetrable techspeak to most people, but basically, what this means that, Facebook access tokens is the line of characters that allows an app to gain access to your profile. Laxman used such a token for the Android app and a random photo album ID and, lo and behold, it transpired you could get in and start mucking around with people’s stuff.
For those who like to get under the hood of things, click here to see Laxman’s workings-out. Or, if you prefer, you can watch a video of it instead of reading all that pesky text.
Now, Laxman has reported this to Facebook and they promptly fixed the bug. However, that’s not to say that they’re aren’t other flaws in the security of social networks.
So, with that, it is advised that you back your photos up if you don’t want them vanishing off the internet. There’s a number of cloud services like Google Drive and the iCloud to store your photos, but as we know, they’re not guaranteeing your stuff is locked-down either, what with the recent Fappening occurrence.
The best bet, if you have a load of photos, is to store them on your hard-drive or buy an external drive to keep them in. A bit of a faff, sure, but if you’re determined to keep hold of those photos from when you ran through a field covered in brightly coloured powder for charity, then you’ll need to do something about it.
Well, after the Big Brother TV Sets debacle with Samsung, we now hear of one of their smart TVs inserting commercials into a video that were stored locally on a Plex media server. The Reddit user in question complained that a Pepsi ad played while they were watching shows and movies on his Samsung television.
Of course, this could well be a look into the future as advertisers try and get their wares into as many platforms as possible. However, in this case, it looks like it was an error Samsung’s part, with a bit of faulty programming.
It seems a few people have had this problem and it isn’t happening on sets made by anyone else. A recent software update seems to be the cause of this particular irritant.
The way to stop this happening, if you’re the owner of a Samsung TV set, is to click “disagree with the Yahoo Privacy Notice” in the options in your Samsung’s Smart Hub options.
However, this does appear to be something Samsung are interested in, as in 2014, the company said that they were looking at “interactive experiences” which will be offered to people on an ‘opt-in’ basis.
Both issues are have a similarity though – it appears that Samsung are treating your data with a reasonable amount of recklessness and, if they don’t get these problems sorted, they might find that customers are going to lose all confidence in them.
Apple are planning a new, free software update which will make your iPad and iPhone run much more quickly. That’s nice of them isn’t it? Unless they mess it up of course.
This brand new iOS 9 update is apparently going to try and iron out all the bugs and lag from your device and generally speed the performance up. While previous iOS updates have been all about that interface, tidying up design and fiddling with the functions, the new one has set its sights almost wholly on performance and speed.
Rumour has it that this new update will come in June and of course, like all other iOS updates, it’ll be free for all compatible devices.
So there you go. If you’ve been whining about your iThing, all your problems might be solved when the summer comes.
Everyone was shrieking in horror yesterday when it turned out that Samsung’s new TVs were voice-activated and it would listen to your voice and store it in some evil word-server at Samsung HQ.
Today, Samsung are trying to calm everyone down and downplay the idea that they’re Big Brother, putting eavesdropping televisions in your house and listening to you while you do dirty phone calls or shout obscenities while playing video games online.
As a reminder, the policy said: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to the third party.”
Naturally, Samsung aren’t the only people doing this. Most voice activated stuff is problematic when it comes to personal privacy. In fact, back in 2013, LG had a similar problem with their smart TVs, regarding the data they gathered while people were watching telly.
In a statement, Samsung said with the utmost gravity, that they take privacy issues “very seriously” and have put in place a number of safeguards to stop unauthorised use of your data.
The statement pointed out that the voice recognition feature on their smart TVs was an option and could simply be switched off and that: “Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, the voice data consists of TV commands, or search sentences, only.”
Feel better now? While you might be able to forgive them for these snooping television sets, no-one should ever forget the time they did that awful, awful rap song.
Amazon, Google and Apple have all employed voice activated assistants and, Samsung are in on the act too – but there’s one big problem with theirs: they are going to eavesdrop on you and store what you’re saying while you’re sat in your house.
Cue Big Brother and Thought Police style thinkpieces from various columnists.
In their policy, it says: “To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features.”
It also says that: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.” See for yourself.
So get that! Your TV will record your conversations and then send them to Samsung! Worries aside, you have to be impressed with how honest Samsung are being about it. They’ve not tried to bury it under jargon at all.
Further into the policy, Samsung also state that wholly opting out of being tracked isn’t part of the deal, which is an absolute crock.
It says: “If you do not enable Voice Recognition, you will not be able to use interactive voice recognition features, although you may be able to control your TV using certain predefined voice commands. While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data so that we can evaluate the performance of the feature and improve it.”
“You may disable Voice Recognition data collection at any time by visiting the “settings” menu. However, this may prevent you from using all of the Voice Recognition features.”
Samsung have made a statement about all this, saying: ”In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use.”
“Voice recognition, which allows the user to control the TV using voice commands, is a Samsung Smart TV feature, which can be activated or deactivated by the user. The TV owner can also disconnect the TV from the Wi-Fi network. Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, the voice data consists of TV commands, or search sentences, only. Users can easily recognize if the voice recognition feature is activated because a microphone icon appears on the screen.”
“Samsung does not retain voice data or sell it to third parties. If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”
Recently, there was a host of problems with WhatsApp Plus, an unaffiliated app to the popular messaging service. Now, there’s issues with the real deal, as security tinkerers have found that anyone can see a WhatsApp users’ profile photos, no matter if they’ve locked their accounts down.
WhatApp launched a web version of their app, syncing the two up, but sadly, there seems to be security flaws which means that, even if you’ve messed with your settings, so that only your friends can see your photos, a bug allows people to get ’round that, and check out your images.
Even if the photos have been deleted, the flaw allows anyone to see those photos too. They might be blurred out on your phone, but online, they’re crystal clear. Not much use if you think you’ve been sending sensitive images to people in presumed safety.
“Sure, it’s not the most serious privacy breach that has ever occurred, but that’s missing the point,” says security expert Graham Cluley in a post about the WhatsApp weakness. “The fact of the matter is that WhatsApp users chose to keep their profile photos private, and their expectation is that WhatsApp will honour their choices and only allow their photos to be viewable by those who the user has approved.”
There’s even a video you can watch, detailing this weakness, which you can watch below.
WhatsApp will invariably be patching this up in the coming weeks, but until you hear something official, it’d be a good idea to only sent images you don’t mind the world seeing through the service.
Have you been using an app called WhatsApp Plus? Well, stop that at once! You see, WhatsApp have banned some users from using the app for 24 hours because it is a third party application and it violates the ‘terms of service’.
WhatsApp have asked their users to uninstall WhatsApp+ and install the authorised version of WhatsApp from official website or Google Play if they want to resume normal service. This other app isn’t related to WhatsApp, which means it has code that isn’t supported by the company and, worse still, if you get hacked and your details and photos leak, they won’t be taking any responsibility for it.
So if you’ve been sending photos of your junk to people through this third party app, you’re asking for trouble.
WhatsApp are treating the Plus app as malware and, in their FAQ section, they’ve said: “WhatsApp Plus is an application that was not developed by WhatsApp, nor is it authorised by WhatsApp. The developers of WhatsApp Plus have no relationship to WhatsApp, and we do not support WhatsApp Plus. Please be aware that WhatsApp Plus contains source code which WhatsApp cannot guarantee as safe and that your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties without your knowledge or authorization.”
In short – stop using it, alright? Good.
Edward Snowden – the NSA whistleblower – is making some bold claims again, this time, saying that Apple’s iPhones have built-in spy software that can be used to track you. That’s some bad PR for Apple if it turns out to be true, eh?
Snowden’s lawyer says that this software can be activated without the user knowing, and remotely.
“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone,” says Anatoly Kucherena. “The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone.”
Of course, this is at odds with Apple’s recent campaigns to improve privacy for users. You may recall Apple saying that it would be nigh-on impossible for government officials to get personal data from those using iOS 8. Apple have also pushed for stronger privacy protection policies, along with a number of other big tech firms.
According to the Independent, the NSA have published documents that reveal how GCHQ (the British intelligent agency) used this software in the iPhone – known as its UDID – to keep tabs on some people. These documents don’t refer to specific spyware, but there might be more documents on the way.
Kucherena did note that, while Edward Snowden doesn’t use an iPhone, if you want to, no-one is stopping you. Very kind of him that.
The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter will help protect the nippers from any adult content, and will be rolled out to all their users on an opt-out type scene.
The company have already been emailing their customers about the modesty blanket, saying that they’re getting it whether they like it or not, regardless of whether children are on hand to be alarmed by the likes of gunfire, screaming and baps.
The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter blocks sites deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 13 during daytime hours, when they should be at school anyway, rather than seeking out wangs on xtube.
Lyssa McGowan, brand director of communications products at Sky, said about the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter: “We’re all aware that cyberspace can present security risks, and that the internet isn’t universally suitable for children. At Sky, when it comes to online safety for all, we take our responsibility very seriously and we want what is best for our customers.”
“What we’re doing now is simply making sure that the automatic position of Sky Broadband Shield is the safest one for all – that’s ‘on’, unless customers choose otherwise.”
So, keep an ear out for people ringing Sky’s customers services and saying “Why yes… I’d like to watch dirty films with my internet connection…”